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Monday, March 31, 2008

Play Ball!

We have a brand new weather station at Camden Yards, as you can see here. The radar does not show much, but a steady drizzle began this morning, and temperatures have not budged much. This is the type of day, where the 'cold may hold'. Expect a cool, damp day but my earlier forecast with temperatures struggling to reach a high of 51F, may be an over estimate. We may stay in the mid 40s.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Swing- and a miss

Spring and stationary fronts are almost as frustrating as a rain snow line forecast. While I expected to reach close to 60 yesterday, we did not. I wasn't that far off, but definitely cooler than I thought. As you can see here, there was a dramatic spread of temperatures... 70s to our south, 40s to our north. Farther north in the Great Lakes it was pure snow. Detroit had 3.5 inches of the stuff...Bringing them to 41.5 for the season. About 12 inches or 40% above normal.
So what happens today? I expected the rain and cold side of this boundary to be here by now- but it's not. It looks like a surge of warm air will arrive just ahead of the front. However the front seems to be moving faster than models are hinting. So if the showers arrive earlier, that would cut off our warming potential. Any added clouds will keep us cooler, while a hour or two of sun would allow us to jump much higher. A tough call, but I had to bite the bullet and go back into the 60s. As for that steady rain I mentioned yesterday- uh, no. Only the chance of showers or a thunderstorm.
This weekend will be cooler and windy. That's not good for the tree I almost lost in the wind machine two weeks ago. Gusts from the north over 30 mph will hold most of us in the upper 40s this weekend. Right now, it's looking cool for opening day baseball with a chance of a shower. Stay tuned....

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Are you ready for some rain?

Yesterday was interesting, since an upper level disturbance brought us surprise afternoon clouds, but the high temperature jumped to 69F. Despite the critic in Starbucks this morning- it not "That Global Warming". Today's high of 85 was set in 1921, and we will be likely to get back to near 60F. In fact, a round of rain has been developing to our west and will continue to spread through Maryland today. A little more impressive than I earlier though: Rain (steady for a few hours) vs. Showers (hit or miss and lasting minutes to less than 1 hour).
While this stationary boundary will likely dump more rain west of the mountains, this mornings behavior leads me to believe that the models have not caught up to the true belief. This is the HPC forecast- basically from the GFS for rainfall this evening. About 1/2 inch to our north and west. I have not seen the 12Z (morning package) yet
, but I would assume it would bump our rainfall estimates up. The second wave with a .99 near Chicago will reach us tomorrow night and may linger into Saturday lunch hour. A touch call on that timing now, but these boundaries do not have much push to them this time of the year, so they can stick around. My bet is on steady rain returning and most impressive for us Friday afternoon and night. We could make a dent in our 2 inch deficit. The only issue will be with temperatures. It will be snow in NY state and New England, with 60s and 70s to our south. A big gradient, but for us the spread could be from low 60s to upper 40s. That gradient may be the difference from York, PA to AA County either today or tomorrow with the biggest bust potential.

Got to run for TV biz stuff....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kiss my GrITs

That's Gravity wave Interactions with Tornadoes,not something in Mel's Diner. As we enter spring, and severe weather season, I thought this was some interesting research from NASA.
First: Gravity waves are caused by a variety of sources, including the passage of wind across terrestrial landforms, interaction at the velocity shear of the polar jet stream and radiation incident from space. They are found to affect atmospheric tides in the middle atmosphere and terrestrial weather in the lower atmosphere.
No, you will not weigh less or more on a scale, but there is a slight fluctuations of the gravity force due to opposing forces. It's now believed that gravity waves interacting with strong rotating storms may enhance the chance of it spinning up some twisters. You may have noticed occasional bulges in the clouds passing overhead. Check out this YouTube video showing gravity waves passing through the sky. For more information about NASA's research, click here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Blue-tiful Day

Yup it's cold, but the sky will be blue. Before I get to the current weather pattern, how about that blue line in Annapolis? For those of you that get tired of Global Warming stories, this is the reason I keep brining it back up here. Besides to exhaustion in regular media formats, it is distortion and misleading information that bothers me more than anything..
In support of the Global Warming Solutions Act- a thin blue line was painted in Annapolis streets yesterday to show how downtown shops would flood.... if the sea level was to rise 20 feet. That would be if the entire Greenland Ice Sheet were to melt. A lot of 'IFs'. The IPCC report (that I do not agree with) has the worst case scenario at the end of this century of a rise of 3 feet. So why show a line with 6 times that? This is just like that old City Paper article discussed on Weather Talk Radio. The front cover animation showed flooding in Ocean City- that looked dramatic. While it did use a 3 foot sea level rise, it never mentioned that the flooding image also included a Category 2 Hurricane (that has not happened in over 100 years). Besides that fact that it falsely represented me, my position and factual information. What you read is often not This run away warming has already been disputed with a petition of 19,000 scientists (including me), as well as recent globally cooling temperatures. I support all 'reasonable' environmental programs and new energy sources- but not at the expense of lying to people. That blue line- while not fully explained- has given a lot of people the impression that 'is' what will happen- in their lifetimes. That is wrong! That is irresponsible! And that is what I want to clear up.
Back to the current weather, the delay in the cold pattern that has skirted around us most of the winter- has settled in now in spring. This morning's temperatures dropped into the 20s- which was around 10 degrees below normal. Today's sun will help, but a north to northeasterly wind will keep us below normal. It's a system passing to our north with overnight and Wednesday morning showers that will shift our wind to the west and allow us to hit the 60s tomorrow. That low pressure developing in the nation's mid section will add more flooding problems there, and bring us an extended stretch of rain Thursday through Saturday morning. While it does seem wet recently, we are making up for a dry start to the year. Currently, we are still 2 inches below normal in rainfall. This pattern is likely to keep us wet atleast into the first half of spring.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easy come, easy go

After my personal week off, now we embark on the official Maryland school spring break. So with limited readers and a quiet weather pattern, I will ease back today with a quickie. I know I missed the model's springing up a coastal that was never to be. And so goes our winter. Official snowfall at BWI is 8.5", more than 50% below normal. It's the record snow in the mid west and Great Lakes that is melting now and causing the national flooding scene. So at least we miss out on that. Here is a neat little interactive widget that will highlight the extreme weather across the nation:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Week Off

I am taking the week off, so I will not post unless there is a major event. Which means I will miss the Spring Equinox, or astronomical arrival of spring at 1:48am on Thursday. Did you know that the earth is actually closer to the sun now than during the middle of the summer?
In fact the earth is closer to the sun during the 1st week of January than in the first week of July. Since there is more water in the southern hemisphere- (that does not heat up as fast as land) it balances out with the distance added during our summer and more land in the northern hemisphere. We (planet earth) are traveling farther away in this part of the orbit, as the sun angle gets higher in the sky. The difference is 3.3% or 4 million miles. It may sound like a lot, but it's not enough to make a difference in the grand scheme of things.

I may have to throw in the towel on snow this year. While the Nation and Globe has a colder winter- we lost out. Perhaps next year we will get our fix and make up for lost time. While I am not online, I have posted our State Temperatures and Eastern Satellite/Radar that will update every time you check in.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Coldest Winter in 7 years. Once Again, I'm Torn!

It's Official: This winter has been cold! I have pointed out the record snow and cold for most of the nation, while we have had a somewhat uneventful winter. Now NOAA has officially stated that this winter (Dec., Jan, and Feb.) has been the coldest for the globe since 2001. That bucks the trend! While some might give full credit to the La Nina (cooler Pacific Ocean Pattern)- this does date back to the southern Hemisphere winter last year- before the La Nina took hold.
For more on this report- click here or the image at the left.

Next: The round of low pressures ready to hit us over the weekend. It's likely they surround Saturday with morning and evening rain- but dry most of the day as one departs and the second arrives. It's the second and stronger low that has me on the fence. How many times this winter have I mentioned a storm that could "end as snow". The models have shown the cold air wrapping in just as the moisture departs. Here we go again. This time a difference is seen between models. I have here an example showing the snow in the NAM/WRF model which looks impressive for Saturday night into Sunday morning. The UKMET also shows at least some flurries possible on Sunday morning. While the GFS model- which lines up with the NGM and Canadian show the system racing out of here by early Sunday with all of the moisture locked too far away.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Historic Blizzards on this date

Today part of the two day anniversary of the Superstorm of 1993:
Records for Baltimore on March 13th 1993:
Lowest Barometer Reading: 28.51"
Wind Gust: 69mph

Snow: 11.3"
Mixed Precipitation: 2.45"
That includes the 1-2 inches of sleet and freezing rain. It was incredible ice that many people remember from that storm, on top of all of the snow.
Hagerstown had 20 inches of snow with 55mph winds claiming snow drifts up to 12 feet high!
Garrett County had 31 inches of snow. Which is more impressive when you consider that they had over 40 inches in the Great Nor'Easter a few months earlier in December (10-12)

I was in upstate New York for that storm where 3-4 feet of snow fell, also a record for Syracuse with 48 inches of total snow.

This same storm brought 4-10 inches of snow to Atlanta and measurable snow to northern Florida.
Florida derecho had winds reach 96mph in Tampa Bay. A line of tornadoes killed 10 people and were followed by flurries.

March 12-14 is also the anniversary of the Great Blizzard of 1888, also known as the White Hurricane.
I spent my summer before my senior year of college at WNET a PBS station in NYC. My internship was to develop a series for an Emmy Award Winning producer about significant weather events that have impacted history. This storm was the first in my research based on it's impact on the development of the New York City underground subway system. Until then, the trains were elevated- because underground trains created too much smoke pollution to the streets above, and the vibrations scared the horses. However these above ground trains (L's for elevated) got stuck in 3-5 foot snow drifts and frozen tracks. Thousands were trapped- and hundreds died.
This storm peaked on the 12th with a barometric pressure dropping under 29.00" as seen on this hand drawn weather map.
For Baltimore- today's date brought a record low of 12F- 1888. Also a record low max temperature of only 18F in the afternoon.
Below is the report from Wikipedia:

The weather preceding the blizzard was unseasonably mild with heavy rains that turned to snow as temperatures dropped rapidly.[1] The storm began in earnest shortly after midnight on March 12, and continued unabated for a full day and a half. The National Weather Service estimated this incredible Nor'easter dumped 50 inches (1.3 m) of snow in Connecticut and Massachusetts while New Jersey and the state of New York had 40 inches (1.0 m).[3] Most of northern Vermont received from 20 inches (50.8 cm) to 30 inches (76.2 cm) in this storm.[4]

Drifts were reported to be 25-40 feet, over the tops of houses from New York to New England, with reports of drifts covering 3-story houses. The highest drift (52 feet (15.8 m)) was recorded in Gravesend, New York. Fifty eight inches of snow was reported in Saratoga Springs, New York; 48 inches in Albany, New York; 45 inches of snow in New Haven, Connecticut; and 22 inches of snow in New York City.[5] The storm also produced severe winds; 80 miles per hour (129 km/h) wind gusts were reported, although the highest official report in New York City was 40 miles per hour (64 km/h), with a 54 miles per hour (87 km/h) gust reported at Block Island.[5] New York's Central Park Observatory reported a minimum temperature of 6 °F (−14.4 °C), and a daytime average of 9 °F (−12.8 °C) on March 13, the coldest ever for March.[5]

Storm EffectsThe storm, referred to as the Great White Hurricane, paralyzed the East Coast from the Chesapeake Bay to Maine,[3] as well as the Atlantic provinces of Canada.[1] Telegraphinfrastructure was disabled, isolating New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C. for days. From Chesapeake Bay through the New England area, over 200 ships were either grounded or wrecked, resulting in the deaths of at least 100 seamen.[5]

In New York, neither rail nor road transport was possible anywhere for days,[6] and drifts across the New York—New Haven rail line at Westport, Connecticut took eight days to clear; transportationsubway system in the United States, which opened nine years later in Boston.[7] gridlock as a result of the storm was partially responsible for the creation of the first underground

Fire stations were immobilized, and property loss from fire alone was estimated at $25 million.[6] Severe flooding occurred after the storm due to melting snow—especially in the Brooklyn area, which was more susceptible to serious flooding due to its topography.[5] Efforts were made to push the snow into the Atlantic Ocean. Over 400 people died from the storm and the ensuing cold, including 200 in New York City alone.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hot Week- 1990

Today's (March 12) record high temperature in Baltimore was set at 86F. But downtown was 95F. The hottest in the nation that day, and the only time Baltimore has held that honor. It should be noted that was at the old Custom House site, where the sensors were on a black tar roof! Currently the city's official data recorded next to the Maryland Science Center- by the cooler Inner Harbor water. Regardless- it does mark a hot week in the nation when 283 record highs were set between the 11th and 15th. This extreme heat points to my theory of balance according to the law of averages. It was 12 days later- March 24th- Baltimore had a record 1.4" of snow.

The next storm:
Here is the Canadian outlook for Saturday morning. I skipped the next two days- because this is the expectation for another round of potential storms for a second Saturday in a row. With a 991mb Low in Garret County, and an active cold front with heavy rain seen in the image on the right- it looks like a wet day for us. The strong Low is only part of the equation. If we stay on the warm side, , and the front passes in the afternoon again- we could have strong thunderstorms or even a slight risk of severe weather. Winds will almost guarantee gusts over 40mph or higher is we don't get the severe storms.
Basically- I am looking for a 60F day on Friday- and night time temps may stay in the 50s. That Saturday temperature will play a role in the energy that can feed into the storm. Last week we surged well above expectations- so I will play this day with caution.
It's a matter of track that will determine who gets a heavy snow out of this- but most likely not us.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Severe Weather in March... A somber reminder

It was March 6, 2004 when a strong cold front blew through Baltimore's Inner Harbor with wind gusts to 55mph. Severe Storm criteria for a warning is 58mph. So no warning was issue until it actually hit the Harbor. Then a Special Marine Advisory was posted, but the accident already happened....
Ft. McHenry Water Taxi Accident
We stayed on TV for 7 hours while the search/rescue/and recovery took place. Our news crews did a great job with the reporting- but this hit too close to home. There was nothing we could do to warn anyone. It was a Saturday afternoon and who was watching TV at the time while temperatures were near 70F? By next year's anniversary- I hope to have a clip of our coverage from that storm. For now, here is the video of Storm Stories from The Weather Channel covering that event. I was honored to be included in this episode, but saddened by the actual event we had to report...There is a limit of 10 minutes for videos on YouTube- so I cut it into 2 parts. Just hit the menu button or wait until it's finished. For those of you who can not view this view from your computer- I am sorry- but it's the easiest way to post videos for this page.

I am away from my personal computer with files from that storm, but we did clock 55mph winds just a mile away at Sparrow's Point HS. The gust at BWI (5 miles away) was 47mph.If this storm had hit 5 miles north or south- it would have been a non event. Just a few garbage cans blown over. In fact Saturday's storm was stronger, which proves that timing and location can be more critical than the storm itself.
Tomorrow: Record heat in Baltimore again proving my theory of extremes...

What a Storm!

I had a 72mph wind at my house. A few reports of 70 mph at Westminster and Glen Rock, PA. While I watched furniture fly around my deck- along with the grill- it was the top half of my locked door that pushed open that was most alarming. I stood there holding it shut, which may have saved the inside furniture from flying around. Wow! Here are some images our weather net station captured from Lakeland ES/MS. Notice the rainbow, the benefit of an afternoon storm such as this.
That was nearly 4 years to the day (well two days off) from the Ft. McHenry Water Taxi accident. I will try to post our ABC2 report and the Storm Stories report as well- later today.
Below are the images related to poll I put up this weekend comparing our new radar to the old one online.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Radar Love- Or Not?

Recently I updated the radar image on the web site to show our new version and sample what will be on our new weather page at ABC2. I have had a few unhappy e-mails asking for the old radar to return. The radar itself is the same! Just the image has changed. While I insist that the old radar had graphics that were 10 years old, and the levels were too 'hot' or overdone- it's what many want.
Here is an example from Saturday afternoon from about 2:21-2:23pm. There was a Severe Thunderstorm Warning in Harford County at the time.

Old Radar:
Map was designed in 1998. The yellow/orange shows heavier rain. The red most likely thunderstorms. It may give false indication of storms in the spring and summer.

New Radar:
This has a different color table and our new maps. Here the yellow/orange is saved for very heavy rain or thunderstorms. You can see a comparison to the storm on the map above.
Personally, while it might be easier to read the old radar, red on it gets used more often than it should. If we saw red on the new radar- it would mean business.

Please make an honest opinion and answer the poll at the right. I will leave it up until Monday.

Friday, March 7, 2008

What Prize? More of the same

There is a lot of stuff here to digest, but I hope it makes up for not posting Thursday...
Since we last talked... a lot has happened here at the deuce. I will not discuss it here, so it's something you'll have to read elsewhere. However, in the hustle, I have been working on rebuilding our weather page (ABC2), and now have a few of our images ready for auto updates online. Here is the our Eastern Radar that should update every 10 minutes or so. The temperatures should update by 15 minutes after every hour.
You can see a large storm still developing and taking that same old track to our west. With temperatures on the back side. It has already brought 9 inches of snow to parts of Texas. It will bring nearly 2 feet of snow to parts of OH and Western PA. By all accounts, a major late winter storm. For us the potential for 2 inches of rain or more. That would likely prompt another Flood Watch (although the last one never panned out). There is already flooding along the Susquehanna River- south of the Conowingo Dam. They had 18 gates opened yesterday, and I think they may push their 30 gates by Sunday or Monday with heavy rain and snow upstream in PA and NY.
The tail end of this storm should still bring in the cold air and that turn over to snow. I doubt we get any accumulation now- much like most of this winter.
Here is the NAM outlook for Saturday. Here are the morning and evening maps. While this Low Pressure rides almost directly overhead, the cold air is locked well to our west. Pitt. is one of the places that will get heavy rain and end as snow, but west and north in the Great Lakes... 20 inches is a possibility. For us, that 540 line pulls through at the tail end, and we could get some snow while air temperatures are still in the mid 30s. I do not expect accumulation.

Persistence wins. I call it atmospheric memory. Storms like to lay down invisible tracks and follow them. Here is the Accuweather winter outlook from November. I have to say It is the closest to the outlook for the season, and typical of La Nina Winters. I have been solid with a near normal snow year- based on the chance of one or two large storms. The sand is running out of our hourglass... and this storm may have been one of our last chances. It was March 10-13 in 1993 that brought the 'Superstorm' our way with and average of 1-2 feet of snow and heavy ice. There still is some hope in the almanc. Our latest and largest March storm in Baltimore was on March 29th, 1942. We had 22 inches! Oh- we can dream.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Keep your Eyes on the Prize

Yesterday we reached 71F without the sun! That was an impressive show, thanks to strong southerly winds that gusted over 40mph. There were some trees down this morning, but that Tornado Watch thankfully did not result in any twisters- as of this posting (6am). The air pressure at BWI dropped to 29.47" or 997 mb on the barometer. That is mighty low and the main reason for our strong winds. However it only resulted in .38" of rain up through 6am this morning. That is well under the expected 1 inch or more. It sure sounded like more!
The strength of this storm will help to establish a little blocking as it winds up in eastern Canada in the next few days. That is a pattern that allow colder air to spill down the east coast. That will set the stage for an eastward push of our next storm. Before I get to that...
Spotlight: St. Louis, MO
Monday: High temperature 79F
Tuesday: Snowfall= 10 inches. A record for the date!

Now we can focus on the next storm for Friday and Saturday:
Here is the GFS projection for late Saturday. As you can see an impressive Low Pressure of 992mb will be passing off of the coast to our east. The 540 thickness line that we watch for rain/snow is highlighted in white. The strong northerly wind direction should allow some backlash moisture to survive as the cold air catches up. Here it does appear to have the chance of bringing a few hours of snowfall. The question that will arise is "can it stick"?
I would suggest now that would be based on timing. The higher sun angle, and recent warm stretch will hurt the chances of 'stickage' during the daylight hours. So while there will be a lot of talk about how much we can get- I can't go there. At least not now. If the timing changes, and we end up with overnight snow- then we could expect to talk amounts.
On that note, here is the Canadian model also showing a turn over back to snow on Saturday: You can see that the surface Low is a little faster, which would result in less moisture left over for snow- but could signal a chance of the whole pattern turning sooner or earlier in the day. Something to watch:
Surface Pressure Precipitation (6hr total)

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The costof warm weather in March

March is known as the windy month- and storms like this help to prove it. While a slow moving storm (see the TV Graphics-Radars Page) will take all day moving towards us, it will be another warm one. Temperatures peaked at 68F yesterday. This morning, it was 60F at 5am! However clouds and the increasing threat of showers will hold us in check.
While we do expect showers this afternoon. Heavy rain will likely hold off until after dark. The model guidance for rain is between 1.00 and 1.50 inches. However is will fall on some frozen ground- at least just under the surface. That limits the soils ability to absorb rain- and will increase runoff. While there may be some standing water or big puddles on a few roads, I don't expect too much of a problem. Strong southerly winds along the bay will raise water levels there as well.

This storm is quite impressive. Snow was falling in Dallas last night as Charles Gibson was doing the evening news. Ohio will be the focus today not only for the primary, but the dramatic change as well. While temps are in the 50s this morning, A Winter Weather Advisory has also been posted for freezing rain and snow this afternoon.

Even when it gets cold, there is no consensus
NY Times Graphic crediting La Nina
This may not be the best time to drudge up the Global Warming issue again- but I heard a few comments yesterday when we reached 68F. Yet it was 78f back in 1923, and today's record of 80F was also set in 1923. I know and feel the frustration of our lackluster snow this winter (there is still hope), but I have tried to share the light the rest of the nation has experienced. In fact, it has been a rough winter around the globe- dating back to last winter in the southern hemisphere. This story in the New York Times- gives credit primarily to La Nina. There is currently a Conference on Climate Change in NY
giving a voice to advocates with scientific and climatological backgrounds that dispute what has been hyped in the media. This conference has not gotten much press, but you can find more information on their web site. As I often said to my students- make up your own minds- don't let me do it for you. Just take in all of the available information and make an educated opinion.

As for our chance for snow may not be far away... After I get a chance to see how this front behaves, I will look at our chance of weekend snow tomorrow.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Taste of Spring- For Some

This is the time of year that we get little bursts of spring temperatures. But for the same reason that our region is difficult to call snow- so it is for temperatures. This morning's water temperature at the Thomas Point Light House was 39F. That acts to refrigerate the air. So as a strong south wind will pump inland areas to the mid 60s, a breeze off of the bay will hold nearby areas to a range of 48F-52F. It's difficult to determine exactly how fr reaching this influence will be since it will be based off of a minor kink in the wind field. The initial warm up will force the air to rise, and colder dense air near the water will flow in- shifting that wind to the south east. This is similar to what happens at the beach in the summer time. So BWI- which is just miles away from the Chesapeake, could fall on either side. I've seen that wind shift kick in mid afternoon and drop the temperature 10 degrees. Or it can stay just east in Glen Burnie, while the airport reaches the mid 60s...
Here is a sample of temperatures on opposite ends of Baltimore County for comparison. It will be most dramatic between noon and 4pm.You can also check the County Spotlights Pages.

Owings Mills:


I know many of you are frustrated with our lack of snow, and losing confidence in any chance this winter. I personally see this warm up as a good sign. The atmospheric balance should bring another arctic shot within a week or so. However, another push into the 60s should be about 3 weeks away. I will have more on our winter pattern tomorrow.